The Blurred Lines

Today at school I answered personal e-mail, updated my Facebook status, Tweeted, looked up flights for winter break, and even read articles that didn’t pertain to school. And they say we’re becoming less productive at work. What really is happening is the line between our work life and our social life is becoming blurred more and more every day. It use to be easy to tell the two apart. The paper mill in my home town use to blow the whistle every morning at 6am and every evening at 4pm. We all told the time by the paper mill and for the workers it was a clear line between work life and social life. For anyone working in the information or knowledge field, and anyone who has a cell phone and/or an Internet connection that whistle is meaning less and less. And we all have our excuses but the truth of the matter is when we’re constantly connected we can constantly work and play. Sure I use some of my work time to do social things, yet I get home from work after 3pm and answer work e-mails, text faculty members about a computer problem, and work on lessons and things that need to be done. So it’s an even swap. I’ll use some of your time, you can use some of mine. Of course teachers have always worked after school hours and if any profession deserves to take a little social time on the clock….it’s educators. But educators are not alone, it’s a change we’re seeing in society. This hyper-connected, always-on, world we now live in is making it so our social life and work life are always intermixing. It’s your bosses ability to call you on the cell at 9pm to talk work, or the idea that you’ll read and answer e-mails via your BlackBerry after you leave the office. The employers are taking advantage of this hyper-connected world as well….why do you think they bought you a company cell phone? They still only pay you to work 8 hours a day. So here’s the question: If these two industrial worlds are collapsing to create a new singular world, what are we doing in schools to help students manage their time in this new world of constant access? Many schools instead of breaking down the walls continue to build them up. You can’t be social while you’re...

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A 5 country brain dump

I find myself sitting here in Kota Kinabaul, Malaysisa reflecting on what has been a 5 country, I don’t know how many presentation, month. From Bahrain to Iowa with Asia and Australia in between, it’s been an amazing month of travel and I find myself thinking and reflecting on all I’ve been talking about and learning along the way. So here’s my brain dump of themes that keep emerging for me: The future is mobile Whether in the heartland of America, or the deserts of the Middle East and Africa, moble phones are the future of connectivity. We’re also seeing this with Apple’s iPad and the ability to connect to a 3G connection. My guess….every mobile device in 3 years will have the built in ability to connect via a celluar network. We’re already doing this, but it will just become part of the hardware of every mobile device. What this will do to/for places like Africa and a large part of the developing word I can only imagine…….but it excites me. Society expects us to be connected I’ve been preaching this everywhere this month as it came out of the TED Talk I did back in September. i think we need to stop making excuses for all of us spending to much time connected and just realize this is now the world we live in. Once we own this fact then we can start having some deep discussions around how do we teach in this new society, how do we communicate, and how do we live in a world that is constantly connected? We continue to have conversations about being “balanced” and I agree that we need to find ways to get off the computer and get reconnected with nature. But balance in the term of 50/50 is not going to happen and it hasn’t been that way for a long time. TVs are in our homes, gaming systems have been around now for 30 years, and we all have a cell phone or soon will. We are now in a time where being connected is the norm and being disconnected is not. We need to make this shift in our thinking. We need to consiously think about disconnecting, taking trips with no connective devices, which goes again societies rules right now and that’s what makes it difficult. A goal of every family should be to take 1...

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Confusing Parents

I’m sure you’ve heard by now the Principal in NJ that is asking parents to ban all Social-Networking sites from students. You can find his full e-mail to parents at the link or watch this interview below: So basically I take two things away from this video: 1. Parents are the problem and need to be told by the school how to raise their children.2. That because “2% of kids are going to say something” we want you to ban all social-networking sites. That’s funny because I’m sure that: 2% of kids have bullied on the playground yet we’ve never banned recess.2% of kids have bullied on the bus….yet we haven’t banned buses.2% of kids have bullied at the bus stop….yet we haven’t banned bus stops. Do I need to continue? Then you have Steve Nelson, the chief IT strategist for the State of Oregon Department of Education, who just connected all 400,000 public school children in the state to Google Apps. Giving every student the power of Gchat, Gdocs, GCal and Gmail creating a state wide social-networking platform for all public school children in the state. Oh…right…and saved $1.5 million a year. I have looked to find more coverage on this but no video by ABC and very little talk of this at all outside local Oregon sites and technology blogs. Why doesn’t Steve get a turn telling how he’s connecting kids for the betterment of education? Right…I forgot….there’s nothing to be scared of in that story. And we wonder why parents are confused. This principal wants to ban students from connecting, and this state wants to connect them all together. I love this new world that we are now living in and all this stuff we’re trying to figure out. I just wish both of these stories would get equal...

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Connecting People or Connecting Content

aaahhhhh……I sit here in the open air lounge of the Magellan Resort, a soft breeze is blowing off the ocean as I over look the pool below and out across the bay to three islands. It’s gonna be a wonderful sunset tonight. I’m telling you overseas conferences are really hard….I mean it. 🙂 I’m continuing to think about the Web and how we use it to connect. Maybe this is all for nothing…but I can’t stop thinking about it. When it comes to building social networks or online communities I think it’s clear to understand what you are and who you are trying to build the site for and what you want them to do. For example I helped to build the community site for the EARCOS Teacher’s Conference I am now at. I choose to use a wiki for a couple of reasons. 1. Not everyone here is tech savvy….the tool of least resistance.2. The conference doesn’t need all of the features of say a Ning or full social network.3. Less is more. The wiki is meant to serve only one purpose really; to create an easy way for presenters to upload handouts, documents, and such to participants of their sessions. Before this year presenters would forward their handouts to EARCOS who dedicated a person to upload the documents to the conference website. The issue became of course that people would send multiple updates of their handouts creating work for someone else to manage those documents. My work around….put presenters in control of their own handouts. Using a wiki was the easier way to do this. Create a page for each presenter, give them accounts that allow them to upload, and get out of the way. So far the website is growing with over 120 members of 1100 conference goers joining the site before the conference even begins tomorrow. Not bad for something that is brand new to this conference. Of course the wiki can do much more than just hold documents….it allows people to connect to each other…or is that connect to content? In this case I believe the wiki serves the purpose to connect people to content. It is a network of users looking for, sharing, and using content created by others. Through this common content they will (hopefully) connect to people who have the same interests as them. Whether it be someone in the same...

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Web 2.0 Participation

I found this image at Personalize media. It is part of a post that is worth a read as well. Click on the image to enlarge and take some time to think about what they are talking about here. How does this apply to learning? Or does it? Where are our students? How do we get students to move through this continuum? Where should we be spending the majority of our time? Where should our...

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